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Yamei Kin-the first Chinese woman to obtain a college degree in the U.S.


Yamei Kin Kin is the first Chinese woman to obtain a medical degree in the U.S. (1885) and also the first Chinese woman to obtain a college degree overseas. A trailblazing physician, Kin broke the Chinese and Japanese prejudice against western medicine and opened the medical profession to women in these two countries. She established and ran the first public nursing school and women's hospital of China, establishing nursing as a profession in China. She also became the first Chinese woman who headed a government hospital. She played a major role in the modernization of women and medicine in China and Japan and she used her influence to defend the dignity and value of Asian lives against the racism---Yellow Peril---upon Asians.

She is credited with introducing tofu to the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) during World War I. She headed USDA's research project on soy food to alleveiate the meat shortage during the war caused by the trade disruption and the hungry army on the battlefields. Her work as a U.S. government agent to study soy food made the New York Times remark “the appointment of Dr. Kin marks the first time the United States has given so much authority to a Chinese.”

As a popular public lecturer in the U.S., she was a voice insisting on the value and dignity of Asian lives, who in a small way helped counter the deep prejudice that prompted the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. She gave lectures in the U.S. on current affairs and women’s rights and attracted great public attention. (New York Times interviewed her 17 times in 5 years.) At other times, she appears to have been a woman of great personal ambition who reinvented herself in the service of her own success—perhaps paradoxically the most purely American thing about her.

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Yamei Kin-the first Chinese woman to obtain a college degree in the U.S.